Thursday, October 22, 2009

The mind wanders....

The life of a big city copper is full of excitement, adventure, and drama. It is also boring , full of mundane tasks that take up too much time.

Paperwork for instance, everything used to be a form set. Fill in the blanks, write up a narrative, you're done. The new, modern, police department is electronic and digital. The report any copper could fill out in ten minutes now takes over an hour. Sometimes it takes a half hour of waiting just to use the computer. Each officer has to log in, choose the proper report, and begin typing. Sounds easy right? Listen to this. Type, tab, type again, tab, oops, not the proper format for the date, do over. Type some more, tab, uh oh you better hit the save application every few minutes or the whole thing vanishes and you have to start over again. How many old time coppers type using more than two fingers on each hand? A simple "he jumped on me" arrest that used to take a half hour (twenty minutes if it was quitting time) now takes over an hour or longer. (Say OVERTIME, baby)

The whole thing was supposed to save paper right? The old arrest report was a five page form set with carbon paper and each page was distributed to the necessary unit. The electronic arrest report now spits out a ten or more page printout and each unit now gets a complete package rather than a one page copy. They still require copies of everything. The archives room at the station is overflowing with boxes of paperwork with no end in sight.

Even the goriest murder was still just a paper job to the Beat copper. Fill in the blanks, write up a half way intelligent narrative, note all the phone call notifications, then turn it over to the Dicks. (They teach them how to type at detective school.)

The very first homicide of copper's career can be very dramatic. A young man was executed in an alley with a bullet to the back of his head in broad daylight. The family of the victim was crying and screaming. A brother of the dead guy held him, crying. He kissed the victim full on the lips then lowered him to the pavement as the police took over. Unsure of how to proceed, the rookie copper stared around trying to sort out the chaos. Luckily, the field training officer said "relax, it's only a paper job. Call for the crime lab and the dicks."

A couple of years and many crime scenes later, a young officer was getting frantic. A woman had been met at the back door to her boyfriends house by a shotgun blast to the face. With most of her head splashed into the back yard (a cat was feasting on brain matter), she was in a sitting position against the railing of the porch. Her body was still gasping for air (the well storied death rattle). The young officer wanted to call an ambulance. "Relax, she's dead already. She just don't know it yet. Besides it's only a paper job" remarked, the now grizzled three year veteran.

Sorry about that, the mind wandered a bit there. Modern technology is slow to catch on in the big city. There are bosses who still want to see paper copies of reports they can review before they will okay them to be submitted electronically. Instead of easing the workload it actually doubled it. Go figure. Old dogs and new tricks comes to mind.

All this muttering is really the agitation a copper gets when a furlough is approaching. Those last few days before a vacation starts are very difficult to endure. A few days of relaxation, laying in the sun, sipping on umbrella drinks, and eyeing the thong bikinis will ease the tension. Unless, of course, you're going with your own spouse then don't forget to take the mirrored shades and suck in your gut!! Your spouse will never notice.

Of course the big city copper is all about morality and solid family values (watch for the lightning bolt) so a visit with the grandkids is this years epic adventure. Mirrored glasses and pretending to be cool is not necessary.

Next year? DA BEACH, DA BEACH, we're going to DA BEACH!!!


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